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Pain Medication Research at UW Medical Center and Washington State University

April 16th, 2011 by Sharon O'Hara

Overdosing on pain medication can kill and may cause pain med addiction.   For COPDers though pain management isn’t usually a part of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) management.  Speaking as a patient – COPD isn’t painful.   Patients simply can’t breathe to different degrees and some patients de-saturate enough to be placed on supplemental oxygen allowing them to exercise further and faster for a quality life.

Trouble is – COPD is often the beginning of gathering other diseases – Other Stuff that is very painful.  Trouble is – some pain medications are known to adversely affect the respiratory system…so too often COPDers learn to live without sleep and 24/7 pain until the day comes when the thought of facing another day of such pain isn’t worth it and that is when a COPDer will take a pain pill or two for relief and to sleep.  Too, our physicians are afraid to prescribe pain meds for fear their patients will become addicted and I understand that.

I lived through the initial crushing left hip pain until now my body is letting me help myself into better hip health through water exercise but the ongoing debilitating cellulitis/Venous Stasis Dermatitis/Lymphedema sweeping lower leg pain finally sent me in desperation to the University of Washington’s Pain Management  Clinic.  On one visit I listed the pain as a 9 out of 10 being the worst.

Those were a few bad years, now is now and it is better.  For the Lymphedema, education was the key.  Thanks Melissa.  Time and exercise is helping me live in harmony with my hip… all without pain medications.

That said,  UW Medicine’s Alex Cahana, M.D., DAAPM, FIPP and the Division of Pain Medicine is doing ground-breaking work in pain management education for the physician and patient.  He was deeply involved with the “Washington State Opioid Reform Initiative, which seeks to reduce the over-prescription of narcotics.”

*******

“Since then, we’ve learned of two initiatives to help providers grapple with the disparate problems of addiction and pain management. ROAM (the Rural Opiate Addiction Management) Collaborative seeks to help manage the widespread issue of opiate addiction in rural Washington. COPE (Collaborative Opioid Prescribing Education) is an online educational tool that helps providers communicate to patients about how best to manage treatment of chronic, non-cancer-related pain.

ROAM and ECHO: Defeating Opiate Addiction in Rural Washington

Until recently, rural physicians have had few tools to help their patients escape opioid addiction — an epidemic health issue in rural areas, with large numbers of unintentional overdoses, even deaths. Methadone maintenance therapy, the most common treatment for opioid addiction, is often unavailable. However, a federally approved medication called buprenorphine (also known as Suboxone or Subutex), is more readily available, and it’s a viable, office-based alternative to methadone.

Despite the potential advantages of buprenorphine as opioid replacement therapy for addicted patients, however, few physicians have taken the eight-hour course that allows them to legally prescribe this medication. As of 2010, only 32 rural doctors in Washington had received the federal waiver that allows them to prescribe Suboxone.

In late March, Roger A. Rosenblatt, M.D., MPH, UW professor and vice chair of the Department of Family Medicine, and UW Medicine’s ROAM (Rural Opiate Addiction Management) Collaborative helped remedy the situation by offering the course to rural physicians and members of their practice staff in Spokane, in conjunction with the annual Regional Rural Health meetings. Physician participants are then eligible to receive a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration to allow the prescription of buprenorphine to treat addiction. If they wish, they can also receive further mentoring and instruction from Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcome), a bi-weekly video-conferencing program that covers issues such as patient management, staff training and clinical protocols.

For more information on ROAM — a collaboration between Washington State University and the University of Washington, funded by the state’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund — contact Rosenblatt at 206.685.1361 or rosenb@uw.edu.

COPE: Online Education for Chronic Opioid Therapy

UW Medicine has launched an online medical training tool for doctors and other prescribing providers who treat chronic pain. Known as COPE — Collaborative Opioid Prescribing Education — the tool is designed to improve interactions between prescribers and patients as they make shared decisions about chronic opioid therapy.

COPE was developed over the past six years by Mark Sullivan, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in UW Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and adjunct professor of bioethics and humanities, and it has been clinically tested and peer-reviewed. It’s a comprehensive program, one that goes beyond typical factual content by using videotaped clinical scenarios to train providers about goal-setting and communications skills. Tutorial models are in development for nurses and for patients and families to help enhance their engagement in decision-making.

COPE focuses on the management of chronic, non-cancer pain, and its interactive modules are a timely response to legislative changes concerning chronic opioid therapy. Recently, Washington State adopted a bill that requires mandatory education and use of a prescription-monitoring program and clinical tracking tool. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration intends to issue a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) which likely will call for a coordinated risk management plan for patients taking long-acting opioids. COPE will help prescribing providers nationwide to meet this challenge.”

For more information on COPE, contact Sullivan at: sullimar@uw.edu.

More later … thanks for listening… Sharon O’Hara

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3 Responses to “Pain Medication Research at UW Medical Center and Washington State University”

  1. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    Lung patients – and others … be careful…

    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2011/apr/19/pierce-county-deputy-died-of-drug-reaction/

    Sharon O’Hara

  2. shezzy Says:

    Purdue Pharma recently announced it is conducting clinical trials on OxyContin in children. Immediately some have criticized, suggesting that the exposure to opioids at an early age will inevitably lead to addiction later in life. The larger issue that was missed is that there are times opioids are necessary for children. Children in intensive care units, emergency rooms, post operatively or in rehab often require strong analgesics. These are children with cancer, with severe burns, with sickle cell anemia or other conditions. It would be cruel and inhumane to leave children untreated who experience extraordinary amounts of pain. Of course opioids should not be the first line of therapy if an alternative is available, but they may be the only way to provide relief. So the question is not whether opioids should be used in children but rather how to use them safely when they are necessary. The only way we can know how to safely use medications in children is if they are studied in children. Science should inform patient safety.

    To follow Dr. Webster visit us at http://yourlifesource.org/blog/2012/07/pediatrics-and-oxycontin/

  3. Pete Says:

    Google suboxne, there are so many people addicted to this highly addictive medication and so few Doctors care to admit to it. Suboxone is a very addictive medication despite the fact it has no opiates. I and thousands of people have attempted to quit suboxone and have realized you cannot just quit, google the weisman method, they charge $20 grand to ween people off this powerful and addictive drug. Please do not use it unless you want to trade one addiction for another.

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This is a patient to patient blog to exchange information and resources...from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) to Arthritis to Cellulites to Sarcoidosis to Sleep Apnea to RLS to Psoriasis to Support Groups to Caregivers and all points in between. Written by Sharon O'Hara.

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